Saturday, June 07, 2014

ideas: Project "Pre-Mortem" vs Failure

Freakonomics » Failure Is Your Friend: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast:

Gary Klein has one suggestion. He is the author of Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights and a proponent of what he calls the (projects) "pre-mortem.
While many institutions conduct a post-mortem to examine why a given project has failed, Klein walks us through an exercise that can spot potential failures before things have gone wrong.

Performing a Project Premortem - Harvard Business Review
"the premortem operates on the assumption that the “patient” has died, and so asks what did go wrong. The team members’ task is to generate plausible reasons for the project’s failure."
"When failure is stigmatized, people will do everything they can to avoid it, often at great cost. Levitt tells the story of a large multinational retailer that was opening its first store in China — and how the company’s executives couldn’t express their misgivings to a bullish boss.

Then we hear a story in which the boss’s “go fever” had far more tragic ramifications: the 1986 launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Allan McDonald, an engineer on the shuttle project and author of the book Truth, Lies, and O-Rings, tell us how his attempts to delay the launch were overruled:"

"LEVITT: I always tell my students — fail quickly. The quicker you fail the more chances you have to fail at something else before you eventually maybe find the thing that you don’t fail at."

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